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5,000 take the stairs in annual Taipei 101 climb

TAIPEI--Some 5,000 runners from across the globe, including senior citizens and breast cancer survivors, traded the world's fastest elevator for stairs Sunday as they joined the annual climb up Taipei 101, one of the world's tallest buildings.

Mark Bourne from Australia won the 91-floor vertical race for the third straight year, clocking 10 minutes and 54 seconds, while Italy's Valentina Belotti claimed her fourth straight title in the women's division with 13 minutes and 22 seconds.

“The last 20 flights of stairs: very very hard,” Bourne said. For his effort, he got to take home NT$100,000 (US$3,313) in prize money.

Several participants caught a lot of attention despite not winning any prizes. Hsueh Ching-kuang completed his climb backwards, as he has in the past nine annual races, while 89-year-old Lai Chi-he ran for his fifth time.

“I didn't feel tired at all. It was fun,” Lai said after completing the climb of 2,046 stairs, or a height of 390 meters.

The oldest participant was 97-year-old Peng Hung-nien, who defied doctors' advise and the results of his physical checkup to take on the challenge.

Peng was accompanied by a physician from Taipei Medical University Hospital, who climbed all the way up with emergency medical supplies on his back.

A group of five women diagnosed with breast cancer also took up the challenge as a way to test their own limits and encourage people with cancer to believe in themselves and not let their disease hold them back from doing what they want to do.

One of the women, surnamed Wang, said she began exercising regularly only after undergoing surgery and other treatment.

Wang said that regular exercise has helped with backaches and that she has been in remission for five years and counting.

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